Email From New Orleans – There’s Hope

The following is an email I received from a guy who own a bunch of warehouses in NOLA. I thought you might be interested in a non-MSM view of the state of things (I have edited out various personal information):

Oh what a day! Thursday, September 1, 2005 Day 3 since Hurricane Katrina hit on August 29, 2005
Fox News calls it America’s Challenge. It is the greatest Natural Disaster to hit the United States. The damage is bad, the flooding is incredible, and the civil disobedience is horrible, but the news media is blowing everything out of proportion. I would like this letter to give my viewpoint of the situation we are in, and to give the facts, without rumors or hearsay.
It may seem crazy to you that I am endangering myself by going to New Orleans, but I want to see for myself how things are, so that I know the future for me and my employees. I had several employees, who are good friends; call me yesterday to find out if they still have a job. I found this odd, but the number who asked was surprising and then I asked others, and they feared the answer. I thought maybe I was too much an optimist, and that I needed to see for myself, so that I can answer honestly. During times like this, many fear that they won’t have a paycheck this week, next week, next month, or next year. The employees need to know whether they should leave New Orleans and make a career change, or stick it out here though the rebuilding.
(My) Construction Manager and I began the day at about 9 AM … about 50 miles outside of New Orleans. … He is in charge of all construction, restoration, renovation, and maintenance of all properties. He knows he will be busy for the next six months in rebuilding or repairing the properties. He joined me to see which properties have the greatest priorities.
On our drive to the City, we discussed the stories we would tell the police so that we could get entry. We decided to say that our parents are at their homes, are frightened, and asked us to help them evacuate. We arrived in St. Charles Parish, where there was much damage and entered without being questioned. There were no police. We simply had to drive a circuitous route, because there are downed trees and power lines and flooded streets. Our journey took us through the spillway on a road that is normally flooded. The spillway is a very wide shallow river, which allows flood waters from the Mississippi River to flow into the lake, thereby saving New Orleans from flooding. The river is at an historic low, and helped to save the City in this Hurricane.

Our first stop was at a warehouse that up until last year stored coffee. The address is 10057 Airline Drive and is a 285,000 square foot warehouse. To our surprise, the building had not damage. It is over twice the size of the largest Wal-Mart Superstore and had 155 MPH winds and had absolutely no damage. Later during the day, the Lessee, who is a warehousemen, notified me that there was no damage and no leaks. He said it was Amazing. I agree.
We then wandered through the blockage in the roadways and went to (his) house in River Ridge. A tree had fallen and damaged a gutter pan, and he lost a couple of shingles, but basically no damage. As we were leaving he brought out a rather large hand gun, in holster, and gave it to me and said I might need it. I have never touched a gun before, but felt reassured that if I needed it, it was there. (He) had a large rifle, and bags of ammunition and we proceeded to Elmwood Industrial Park.
Our first stop was at 6040 Beven Street, a 213,600 square foot warehouse used to store coffee. As we approached the building, it was raining, and we noticed gutter pans missing. When we entered, the warehouse, we saw water running down the wall and about a 1 to 2 inch gap on the wall, where it meets the roof, and could see the light coming through. The coffee is stored about 40 feet from the front wall and none of the coffee had gotten wet. There was some ponding on the floor, where the water ran to the lowest point, but none of the water was deeper than 1 inch. I considered myself lucky, since the damage was minimal and can be repaired rather quickly, once roofers are available. In the meantime, the coffee is safe, since it can not get wet.
We then drove several blocks to my brother’s business, Beads by the Dozen ( A Mardi Gras Beads Company ), and found the nearly 200,000 square foot, three building complex. One building was perfectly fine, one building had a blown out door with 5 skylights broken, yet nothing wet. I walked throughout the building and everything was fine. The third building which is only 30 feet from the other space was destroyed. A 20,000 square foot building with about 15 truck doors blown out, part of the roof removed, and the front brick wall lying on the ground. I doubt if it can be saved.
We continued to drive down Edwards Ave, and came across TCI warehouse at the intersection of Mounes and Edwards and there was a large roof lying on the ground. When I say large, I am talking about a 70,000 square foot roof lying on the ground. We then went next door to one of my warehouses, which is 80,000 square feet and is leased to an auto parts distributor. The doors all blew in and about 1/3 of the roof is missing. All of the items on the shelving in the warehouse space is stacked perfectly like nothing happened. The concrete building next to it has 1/3 of the walls missing and the roof collapsed. Water from the fire sprinklers was spewing out of the pipes. It appeared as though a tornado hit this spot.
Two blocks away is my 5725 Powell Street warehouse, which is 89,000 square feet, leased to the US Postal Service, and it did not have a scratch. We then went to 1401 Clearview, one of my coffee warehouses, with 160,000 square feet of space. One truck door was blown in, but all of the coffee was fine, and there was no water in the warehouse. This was the final inspection of coffee warehouses and all our coffee is in good shape.
We then drove through Uptown New Orleans and the University Section. There were tree branches everywhere, but not too many downed trees. The media would make you think that there is not a tree left. That is far from the truth. New Orleans has always been known for its trees, and I feel it always will be.
We passed many warehouses that are owned or operated by Metro warehouses and the Louisiana Warehouse had about 12 blown in doors, their Market Street Warehouse had several doors blown out and a section of the roof, about 50’ by 30’ was missing. There were further damages to the walls.
We went to our Josephine warehouses, and there were 4 doors blown open. And one of the 4 buildings had roof damage, but the product inside the buildings is fine and not wet.
The next stop is a recently restored historic warehouse that was previously a cotton warehouse and is now a copper warehouse located at 1899 Josephine Street, and there is damage to one door, but everything else was fine.
Then we went to the 105,000 square foot Market Street / Waterworks Building which is Leased to Disney Studios. Everything was fine, but the building across the street totally collapsed. The building that collapse was about 40,000 square feet.
Our next stop was at our warehouse at 5200 Coffee Drive, and the only damage was some flashing on the Northern side. No water entered the building and the only loss was the canopy over the outside break area. Next door is Silocaf, and everything seemed fine there.
Next stop was to check my house at St Charles Place and I was pleasantly surprised to see there was not damage and especially happy to see there had been no looting in the area. It was quite depressing to see the Downtown area with about 20,000 homeless people walking with all their belongings in grocery carts walking the neighborhood. These were primarily those who lost everything in St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish. Many of them swam miles to get to high ground in New Orleans. They thought there would be food and drink, but there is none. Hopefully today, the National Guard will start bringing food and drink to people who have had none since Monday.
We did see remnants of looting that had taken place at grocery stores. But homes and businesses other than food or electronic stores were untouched. The stories of the crimes in New Orleans were not seen on Thursday. Please believe me when I say that New Orleans will be back in business soon. Once the electricity comes back on, we will function once again. In the past, we would have been in operation without the electricity, but because of computers, it is hard to operate. Perhaps we will need to go back to previous used forms of communication until power is resumed.
I am so pleased that I visited New Orleans. It is not lost. Our historic structures remain, our French Quarter will be opening again, Bourbon Street will be partying, and business will be opening soon. There will be huge amounts of money coming into the area to pay for the damages, those monies will be spent rapidly, and we may see a boom in business and tourism. People from all over the world will be anxious to see what happened the day Katrina hit New Orleans.
The news media, as it usually does, has created a scenario that is not true. On Thursday, I saw a City that was taking its first steps for a future of great growth. I am being positive, but I think we all must be positive at this time. If the news media is not showing the full story, perhaps you should not watch the one sided stories.
Oh, most importantly, I felt safe and did not need to have a gun nearby. Next time, I will not bring one. I refuse to believe it will take 6 months to get back to business. Expect some of us to be in business in a week or two.

The Media lives for the floating body and the pictures of chaos and looting. There’s no screaming headline to be found in “areas dry and undamaged.” Let’s all hope and pray that there are more folks willing and able to go back and start life anew, that the horrific damage from the water is more confined than we’ve been led to believe from the views that the MSM have shown us.
And let’s hope that the folks in Mississippi and Alabama start getting the help and attention they need.
*dang blockquotes fixed.

3 Responses to “Email From New Orleans – There’s Hope”

  1. Cullen says:

    Great news. Great to hear.

  2. Nightfly says:

    This is very reassuring (and not just because it was coffee).

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